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Oh no, not again.

5 Jul 2024

Eggs used to be a staple of the Kiwi diet.

As nature's protein and vitamin capsule, the nutritional benefits of eggs can't be understated.

They're also an incredibly useful part of many dishes -- everything from the humble soft-boiled egg with toast for dipping through to sophisticated cakes and deserts that seduce you into eating far more than is good for you.

A while ago however, eggs became as scares as hen's teeth.

The government declared that battery hens were no longer acceptable so poultry farms had to change to barn or even free-range practices for their hens and that meant a huge shortage and skyrocketing prices.

Even today, now that the changes have been completed, eggs are very expensive when compared to a few years ago.

I love eggs but don't eat nearly as many as I used to, mainly for cost reasons.

If you're in the same boat then prepare for yet another price and scarcity shock.

Bird flu is sweeping the world right now and exacting an enormous toll on poultry producers. With a very high mortality rate within bird species, a form of bird flu (albeit not the H5N1 variant) is wreaking havoc on the supply of both chicken meat and eggs.

Unfortunately, even our geographical remoteness may not provide an adequate level of protection against the virus arriving here in New Zealand. That's because it's already reached Australia.

In fact, across the ditch the effects of bird flue are now so pronounced that it's even affected fastfood giant McDonalds which has announced changes to its breakfast menu hours to try and reduce its own consumption of this increasingly scarce and pricy commodity.

It's worth noting (as I mentioned in a previous column) that in the USA, dairy herds are becoming infected with H5N1 and that's resulting in a growing number of human infections within farm workers. We're told that it's only a matter of time before this virus mutates to the point where human to human transmission becomes commonplace.

Then, I guess, we're looking at what could be another global pandemic -- before we've even shrugged off the economic effects of Covid 19.

Australia has already culled over 1.5 million chickens in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease and the infection has been detected in 11 poultry farms across South East Australia.

So... enjoy your eggs while you can. It's not a matter of "if" but "when" we have this bird flu or perhaps even H5N1 setting up shop in Godzone and then the egg shelves in your local supermarket will once again become bare.

Let's hope for some good news for next week's columns eh?

Carpe Diem folks!

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